Its the Doctor Who Question of the Day!
Looking back at my favorite TV show (or shows, depending on how you look at it), I am fielding questions from different sources to prompt my thoughts. Today’s question comes from my daughter Johanna, who is a huge fan of the series.
Which monster could have been terrifying if it just wasn’t so silly?
Or to put it another way, if hadn’t just been depicted in such a silly fashion?
(Daily Doctor Who #94)
The thing is, Doctor Who started off as a children’s show, and it’s never fully outgrown that position. And, really, we don’t want it to. Though there is certainly “hard science fiction” to be found in its episodes and story arcs, there has always been an element of whimsy and fantasy that has pervaded the whole thing.
At the same time, there has always been a strong element of horror as well. Nearly every story has a monster of some sort, and nearly all of them involve grisly death. But the show has always strived to keep itself from crossing the line into legitimate “adult horror”. People have famously disagreed about where that line is, but pretty much everyone involved has always attempted to stay on the right side of it.
Add into this a dose of low-budget cheapness, and this means that sometimes the show has struggled to find that balance, and what we’ve gotten was a scary concept given a ludicrous or laughable presentation. And I think that’s what Johanna is asking me about.
Debuting back in the first two-parter of the first season of the revived Doctor Who, Russell T. Davies’ Slitheen were basically a family of criminals from the planet Raxacoricofallapatorius who attempted to turn the earth into a nuclear wasteland in order to sell it of as fuel. They could somehow compress their large and bulbous bodies into the size of a human being, and could hide themselves inside the skin of their victims–truly a nightmarish concept.
However, they were also patently ridiculous. They walked around constantly farting and belching, and never stopped cackling like gluttonous lunatics. They produced a few good moments here and there, especially in their appearance later in the season in Boom Town, but for the most part the Slitheen were a bit of an embarrassing idea that fairly rapidly departed from the airwaves, after initially receiving a great deal of prominence.
For my money, they were better forgotten.
Anyone else have a question to consider? Let me know!